Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ask the Internet: Food Shopping in NYC?

Today's question comes from reader Nicki O., who is moving to Manhattan in about two weeks. It's a tad Big Apple-centric, but there's a Green Kitchen coming later for all you non-New Yorkers out there.

Q: I'm about to leave my warm, wonderful little corner of San Diego, CA for my favorite city in the world: New York, NY! As a single female amateur cook/foodie, where does one go grocery shopping on the cheap and healthy in Manhattan? Do people buy items from various stores? Farmer's markets?

Source: everywhere
I am no stranger to Asian grocery stores, I love Trader Joe's and I tend to buy store-brand items (Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, big chain grocers like Ralph's in CA). I eat meat but also eat like a vegetarian 50% of the time to save costs. I bring my lunch to work every day and hope to continue that trend when I move instead of running the nearest delicious food cart...though that amount of food lasts me at least two meals. Any suggestions?

A: Great question, Nicki! These answers pertain to Manhattan only (but I could write a whole dissertation about Brooklyn). Hope they help:
  • There's a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods within a few blocks of each other in Union Square, right by the Farmer's Market. Both are insanely busy, but are pretty well stocked. Going at weird hours might help with the crowds problem.
  • For rock-bottom produce and seafood in Manhattan, Chinatown can't be beat. Actually, any ethic market will be a good deal, comparatively.
  • There's a market called Fairway which is pretty amazing. Prices are reasonable, selection is out of this world. Essex Market (sadly, now without Jeffrey the butcher) is a must-see. Chelsea Market is more of a specialty foods place, but definitely fun to walk through, especially if you're craving brownies.
  • Beyond that, the chains are: Foodtown, Gristedes, Key Food, Food Emporium, Associated, Dean & Deluca and D'Agostino. The quality varies wildly depending on the neighborhood, except for D&D, which is always pricey. (Incidentally, I've never found a cheap D'Ag, either).
  • There are independently-run supermarkets, grocery stores, markets, bodegas, and delis all over the place. If you find a good one, stick with it.
  • There's a short stretch on 9th Avenue between 38th and 42nd streets with cheap produce, fish, dried goods, and meats. Solid quality, with some great prices.
 And with that, NYC readers, I turn it over to you. Help a sister out!

Want to ask the interweb a question? Post one in the comment section, or write to Cheaphealthygood@gmail.com. Then, tune in next Tuesday for an answer/several answers from the good people of the World Wide Net.

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